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Class Speaker Kate Hazlett's Commencement Remarks
Posted 05/24/2019 07:00PM

Kate Hazlett began as student at GA in pre-K and graduated as a member of the Cum Laude Society. As a senior she was a captain of the GA Swimming & Diving Team and president of the GA Athletic Board. For 5 consecutive years, she has held the title of New England Champion in the 50 freestyle as well as 10 additional New England championship medals. She is a 12-time All-American and qualified and competed in the Olympic trials in 2016. In the fall, Kate will be attending Harvard University. She was elected by her peers to serve as their commencement class speaker.

During these past few weeks as seniors, wrapping up our time here has given all of us the opportunity to reflect on our Greenwich Academy experience.

For me, this began when I took a seat at the Harkness table of Mr. Motland's Russian Literature class a couple of weeks ago. Even after spending two years facing the wrath of Mr. Motland's existential questions, I can't say I was ready for the class ahead of me.

We had read Anton Chekhov's short story "Gooseberries" the night before, which is a story about a man who strives towards a single goal to achieve by the end of his life. He believes that if he ends up living in a country house lined with gooseberry bushes, he will have lived a life that he is satisfied with.

After discussing the story, Mr. Motland turned to us and asked, "What's your gooseberry?" Put in simpler terms, what is the one thing that if you have by the end of your life, you know you'll be happy? If you have that one thing, you will finally be fulfilled. You will have made it.

Our class went around the table, and we shared a diverse array of answers. But, we then asked Mr. Motland what his gooseberry was out of curiosity, and also probably partly out of frustration because there goes Mr. Motland, again, asking us another life-altering question right before lunch block.

But I'm not sure that any of us expected his response.

He said, "My vocation. There's nothing I'm better at and nothing I enjoy more than teaching at this school. A lot of my friends don't love what they do, but I do." He told us he wasn't looking forward to retiring, and he didn't want any other gooseberries.

That moment made me stop and think. We are so lucky to be at a school where the teachers not only love what they do, but the teachers at GA also are willing to teach beyond the curriculum. They teach to the person. They go beyond the equations. They prepare us for college and for the world. They guide us to be good people, and they truly guide us to build our character.

We, as students, can only hope for a time in our lives professionally where we can feel like Mr. Motland, happy in the moment and not always striving for something different and new. In today's era, it was comforting to hear from a person completely happy in his life, and someone who has achieved his goals.

And I mean, yeah, the more I think about it, the story is kind of ridiculous. The guy in Chekhov's piece thinks that if he doesn't have a bush with some mediocre berries on it by the time he dies, he'll have felt like his career and life tanked harder than James Charles'. And for my mom, who doesn't know who James Charles is, uh... think Laurie Loughlin.

But honestly, I appreciated hearing at this point in my life, that it is possible to be an adult who is truly happy in their profession and in their life. And thanks to Greenwich Academy, we're all ready and confident to find this in college, and more importantly, to find this in our lives.

As a class, we were guided through Greenwich Academy with poise and determination. Well, for the most part. The journey was not always easy. The lyrics to "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear," were very much not clear to us the day before Mumming Sophomore year. And that sig fig quiz in 8th grade threw us for a bit of a loop, and maybe terrified us for high school Chemistry.

And, despite many of us dying of influenza on the Oregon Trail in 3rd grade, we have also accomplished great things. Of course, the most commendable being winning the dodgeball tournament versus the faculty this year, even though there seemed to be a bit of a controversy over who the winner was, but that's beside the point. We were also the first class at GA to do a grade-wide talent show piece in the middle school. We truly are a group of sisters, and we have only grown closer together with time.

Although we've gone through the same experiences at GA, as individuals, we have had so many different talents and interests fostered by this school. Some of us are beautiful singers and dancers, and some of us are phenomenal researchers. Some of us can hit a shot from half-court with our eyes closed, and some of us have already learned multivariable calculus.

So, on behalf of the Class of 2019, thank you to the faculty, administration, and fellow students for dedicating your time to inspire us. And thank you to our parents, for making the decision and sacrifices to send us to GA. We are thankful for the support that we have been given, shaping us to be who we are today. We were proud to be GA girls, and are now proud to be GA alumnae. And I am proud to join my mom and her two sisters as a GA alumna as well.

And to the Class of 2019, this is it. For years, we've watched this big white tent be put up for each graduating class, a visual marker that shows another school year is nearing its close, and that it's time to transition from one year to the next. But this time, the tent is for us, and we're the ones in white.

Sure, we might have swirled our last cup of frozen yogurt and taken that final path walk. We even ate our last Chef Anthony chocolate muffin. But I know that we will walk into our next classroom confidently, with the skills and lessons that GA and our 84 sisters have instilled in us. With our diplomas in hand, GA has prepared us for the next step, and I know we are all ready and eager to find our own gooseberry. Thank you.

Greenwich Academy 200 North Maple Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 203.625.8900
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